Turmeric is one of the most-studied spices, the subject of over 7000 different pieces of research published by the National Institutes of Health. There is very good reason for this: used by ancient cultures as far back as recorded history goes, scientists wanted to know why it does what it does and all the different ways it does it.
The human conditions it treats vary from cancer to high blood pressure to arthritis to cognitive decline to depression to protection of the skin from harmful ultraviolet rays.
The most significant compound of turmeric of medicinal value is curcumin; it is a powerful antioxidant that seems to just know where it’s needed and fights toxins within and without. Turmeric is a versatile spice that can be added to almost anything, providing a tangy flavor.
Not surprisingly, turmeric has proven at least as effective as pharmaceuticals designed to do the same things–without the side effects (and cost). Check the list below; if you are taking one or more of these, you might consider adding turmeric to your diet and leaving the hazardous chemicals behind.
There are many prescription and over-the-counter anti-inflammatories regularly prescribed including sulindac, naproxen, celecoxib, tamoxifen, phenylbutazone, and ibuprofen.
Turmeric works as well or better than all of these. When taken as an anti-inflammatory, combine turmeric with black pepper to increase its bioavailability; the longer it stays in the body, the more time it has to do its work.
Chronic inflammation in the body is a precursor to disease, one of which is cancer. Turmeric has been shown to inhibit cancerous tumor growth and proliferation, especially of brain, prostate, and breast cancers.
2. Aspirin (Blood Thinner)
When taken as a blood thinner, even in very small doses (baby aspirin), aspirin can cause deterioration of the stomach lining, promoting ulcers and digestive issues.
Turmeric stops platelets from clumping together, which is how blood clots form. For use as an analgesic, turmeric is as effective as aspirin or other over-the-counter painkillers.
In a Chinese study, curcumin was found to be as effective as the steroid drug dexamethasone. In fact, curcumin is an active anti-inflammatory and antibacterial.
Statins are a group of chemicals that have been prescribed for managing cholesterol. Since the patent for Lipitor–the most financially successful of these–expired in 2011, the number of lawsuits initiated against its manufacturer Pfizer has reached into the thousands.
Lipitor and other statin drugs may lower low-density lipoproteins (LDL cholesterol) in the blood but in many people, the consequent diseases are worse: Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, liver failure, and ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease). Blood cholesterol is readily manageable through diet.
By controlling cholesterol, curcumin prevents atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)–reducing risk of heart disease and stroke. Even a low daily dose of curcumin lowers LDL and total cholesterol.
5. Metformin (Diabetes)
Love this one: in managing diabetes, curcumin is 400 to ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND TIMES better than metformin. It acts by lowering glucose levels in the blood. No-brainer there.
6. Oxaliplatin (Chemotherapy)
Curcumin works as well as this hard-to-pronounce man-made chemical in arresting colorectal cancer:
“curcumin may be of use in therapeutic regimes directed against colorectal cancer, and suggests that in combination with oxaliplatin it may enhance efficacy of the latter.”
Interesting that the authors note curcumin can enhance the efficacy of the drug; if curcumin is better and has no side effects, why even bother with “the latter”?
7. Prozac/Fluoxetine and Imipramine (Antidepressants)
Turmeric is more effective than Prozac in treating depression:
“curcumin may be used as an effective and safe modality for treatment in patients with MDD [major depressive disorder] without concurrent suicidal ideation or other psychotic disorders.”